SREL Reprint #2022





Morphometric Similarity between the Turtles Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis and K. baurii


1National Biological Service, Palm Springs Field Station, Midcontinent Ecological Science Center, 63-500 Garnet Avenue, P.O. Box 2000, North Palm Springs, California 92258-2000, USA,

East Carolina University, Department of Biology, Greenville, North Carolina 27858-4353, USA.

The eastern mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum subrubrum) and the striped mud turtle (K. baurii) have often been reciprocally misidentified in the eastern United States. Traditionally the two taxa were differentiated on the basis of pigmentation patterns: K. banrii typically exhibits three longitudinal carapace stripes and a pair of well-defined stripes on either side of the head, whereas K. s. subrubrum lacks such discrete pigmentation (Ernst et al., 1994). Nonetheless, variable expression of striping patterns in K. baurii has complicated efforts to differentiate consistently the two species in areas of sympatry throughout northern Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and southern Virginia. A reliable alternative for identification involves the use of discriminant function analysis (DFA) to classify questionable specimens on the basis of morphological traits (Lamb, 1983; Lamb and Lovich, 1990).

In earlier surveys (Lamb, 1983; Lamb and Lovich, 1990), we noticed a striking resemblance between Mississippi mud turtles (K. s. hippocrepis) and K. baurii with respect to head striping, which is considered diagnostic for both taxa (Ernst, 1974; Iverson, 1977). Moreover, DFA of a limited number of K. s. hippocrepis classified them morphometrically as K. baurii (Iverson, pers. comm.; Lovich and Lamb, unpubl. data), an observation corroborated by Wilson (in press), who employed the discriminant functions of Lamb and Lovich (1990). Herein we provide a more detailed assessment of morphometric similarity between K. s. hippocrepis and K. baurii, as well as certain comparisons with other members of the "subrubrum" group (Iverson, 1988, 1991).

SREL Reprint #2022

Lovich, J.E. and T. Lamb. 1995. Morphometric similarity between the turtles Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis and K. baurii. Journal of Herpetology 29:621-624.

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